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Moving your spouse into a nursing home can be a weighty decision, emotionally and financially.

If you don’t take the right steps, there is a chance that transitioning to a nursing home will drain your spouse’s finances, and possibly even your own.

In this blog post, we’ll look at some common mistakes to avoid before your spouse transitions to a nursing home.

Failing to Pay Debts Before Applying to Live in a Nursing Home

Use your spouse’s assets to pay debts and expenses prior to applying for Medicaid.  This will reduce the demands on the community spouse’s assets according to the Medicaid rules of spousal impoverishment. It is better to reduce one’s debt load and take care of costs than have the money be spent on nursing home care that Medicaid can cover. So, pay off those debt obligations, insurance premiums, large bills etc. Use this opportunity to prepay for services and obligations such as funeral costs and real estate taxes.

Failing to Spend on Assets Medicaid Does Not Count

Plenty of people are unaware that Medicaid eligibility rules do not count specific assets like cars and homes. This means it makes sense for a community spouse to take funds from countable savings to purchase a nicer home, improve or repair a home, buy household furnishings or purchase a new vehicle.

Not Taking Assets Out of Your Spouse’s Name

It is a mistake to leave all your spouse’s assets intact when applying for admission to a nursing home. Nursing homes often cost in excess of six figures per year. If your spouse has money in his or her name, it is expected that this money will be spent on nursing home costs before Medicaid begins to pay for care.

Spending Down After Qualifying for Medicaid

A surprising number of seniors qualify for Medicaid benefits and do not even know it! Some older individuals receive misinformation about the program. Others are convinced they must spend down half of their assets or even all of them before they can apply for Medicaid. It is possible to protect additional resources to provide money for the spouse or complete an exempt transfer. The failure to realize qualification for Medicaid has the potential to result in a loss in upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

Missing the Boat on Exempt Transfers

The law allows for exemptions from gifting penalties like a Medicaid applicant gifting money to a disabled daughter or son. It is even possible to gift a residence to a daughter or son who has resided in the home two years prior to the owner’s move to a nursing facility if the child provided care to delay the parent’s institutionalization.

Elder Law Attorneys You Can Trust

If you are a senior citizen or have a loved one in his or her golden years, the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney will prove invaluable. At Gummer Elder Law, our mission is to protect your money and property as you or your loved one prepares to enter long-term care.

Whether you need assistance with a guardianship, will, trust, asset protection, power of attorney or Medicaid, we can help. Reach out to us today to schedule an initial consultation.